Equality, opportunity, community: New leadership - A fresh start

This publication sets out the First Minister’s vision for Scotland and the outcomes he and his government aim to achieve by 2026.

Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills

Jenny Gilruth MSP

I will ensure that Scotland's education system strives for excellence and equity for all, and allows all our children to excel. This is vital if future generations are to grasp the opportunities we know are coming, from the high skilled jobs arising from our transition to net zero to our growing digital sector. Post pandemic, we will rebuild and reshape how education is delivered, for the benefit of all learners.

From early learning and childcare, to formal school education, to higher education, post 16 training and skills provision and lifelong learning for all – the map of pathways that make up Scotland's educational system has never been more varied. That variety is a strength to be celebrated, and represents the different needs of our children, young people, and adult learners.

A modern education system builds education around the needs of the child and promotes knowledge and skills development. A good education gives every child and young person the best chance to succeed in life. I will therefore ensure a strong education system that strives for the attainment gap to close and continues to raise attainment for all. I will also take action to contribute to the cross-government aim of reducing child poverty, by building upon our existing free childcare programme, focusing on those who need it most. I will work towards reducing inequality in our schools, ensuring schools are inclusive, welcoming spaces for every child.

The preventative approach is critical: children who grow up with less trauma, surrounded by love, are much more likely to fulfil their potential and enjoy wellbeing.

As the Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills, working with my Cabinet colleagues, I commit that by 2026 I will have:

  • Built a system of school age childcare and developed a funded early learning and childcare offer for 1 and 2 year olds, focusing on those who need it most.
  • Sought to increase the provision of internationally comparable data on Scotland's education performance by re-joining the Trends in International Mathematics and Science (TIMSS) and Progress in International Reading Literacy (PIRLS) studies.
  • Continued to focus on closing the poverty related attainment gap, whilst raising attainment for all - using our investment in the Scottish Attainment Challenge to further empower headteachers and Local Government to achieve their ambitions to improve outcomes for children and young people impacted by poverty.
  • Delivered excellence in school education through empowering and supporting our teaching profession, putting learners' needs at the centre. Our new national education bodies will have clearer roles and responsibilities to support this work collaboratively.
  • Strengthened support for the curriculum and have an equitable, accessible, valid, and reliable qualifications system for all.
  • Improved the experiences and outcomes for children, young people and their families who use additional support for learning.
  • Improved digital access for learners.
  • Expanded free school meal provision.
  • Made Scotland the first UK nation to incorporate the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child into domestic law, ensuring we are a country that respects, protects and fulfils children's rights.
  • Kept The Promise made to the care community by 2030, by helping families to thrive and stay together where that is appropriate, and reduced the numbers of children who have to go into care.
  • Helped all school leavers, regardless of their background, to access the transition support they need to achieve their potential, and ensure every young person aged 16-24 can further their education or secure a job or training place.
  • Introduced Scotland's first National Transitions to Adulthood Strategy to ensure there is a joined-up approach to supporting our disabled young people as they make the transition to adult life.
  • Developed a more agile and responsive skills system that better meets the needs of Scotland's learners and employers.
  • Met our interim target of 18% of full-time first degree entrants to universities coming from the most deprived communities in Scotland.
  • Supported and evidenced the continuation of international excellence in teaching and research within Scotland's Higher Education institutions.
  • Delivered a national framework to tackle gender-based violence and sexual harassment in schools, and then commissioned an independent review of our work on this.


Email: pfg@gov.scot

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